How to Figure Up Child Support for Arkansas
By Wayne Thomas
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Arkansas is one of the states that determines child support based on the noncustodial parent's income, without regard to the custodial parent's income. This base support amount may be adjusted up or down to promote the welfare of the children and to compensate for certain expenses of the noncustodial parent.
Percentage of Income
Arkansas child support is calculated based on a percentage of income model. This involves using a chart supplied by the state, which takes into account the number of children and the net income of the noncustodial parent. These figures correspond to a weekly dollar figure, known as the base support amount. For example, if the noncustodial parent earns $150 a week in net income, the resulting base payment amount would be $38 a week for one child or $80 a week for five children.
In calculating the noncustodial parent's income, Arkansas law specifies what sources of income may be considered and what deductions are allowed. The state's definition of income is broad and includes wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, workers’ compensation, and disability and retirement benefits. These sources of income are added together, and then certain deductions are subtracted to arrive at net income. These include federal and state income taxes, medical insurance paid for dependent children, and any existing court-ordered child support amounts.
In Arkansas, the child support reference chart tops out at a weekly income of $1,000. If the non-custodial parent's income exceeds this amount, a separate percentage of the additional income is added to the total support amount. For example, if the noncustodial parent earns $2,000 in net income per week and has two children, the first $1,000 corresponds to a payment of $213. The law then provides a rate of 21 percent of the excess income for two children, which in this case is $210, for a total of $423.
Many factors can increase or decrease the amount of a parent's support obligation. For example, Arkansas requires parents to include the child on an existing health care plan through an employer, or to purchase private insurance if available at a reasonable cost. The premiums are added to the total support amount, resulting in a larger support obligation. Further, the court may reduce the chart amount for daycare expenses made by the noncustodial parent. Support may also be reduced in cases of extended parenting time, such as in shared custody arrangements.
Wayne Thomas earned his J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2008. He has experience writing about environmental topics, music and health, as well as legal issues. Since 2011, Thomas has also served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."